It’s important for us to not forget the sacrifices that others have made on our behalf. Memorial Day reminds us to reflect on those soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. Freedom reminds us of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said:
“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual, Free at last! Free at last!”
In his book,“Habits of the Heart” Robert Bellah observes, “For King, the struggle for freedom became a practice of commitment within a vision of America as a community of memory.”
Remembering makes us grateful. As we reflect on those who have served our nation in wars we are filled with thanksgiving for all they have done. We’re also grateful for their families.
Remembering makes us grace-filled. Our frame of reference is that we did nothing to earn our citizenship in this nation or the freedoms we enjoy. Our American citizenship is fortuitous rather than merited. As we look at those who are less fortunate our hearts become more inclusive of those who would immigrate.
Remembering makes us willing to offer our own sacrifices. We volunteer with organizations that help with food, clothing and shelter. We give help to those in recovery and rehabilitation. Realizing how blessed we are gives us perspective. Some Americans did not grow up in stable homes with parents who modeled a healthy lifestyle.
Still some of the ways we serve others will be rooted in collegial relationships at work and at home. When we make sacrifices we make an impact on others. Our service becomes personal when we offer someone a ride, or help a person with his landscaping. People remember our service, and the time we took to offer it. They remember us. All sacrifices and service align us with the words of Charles Spurgeon who said, “Carve your name on hearts and not on marble.”
Memorial Day reminds us of the many wars that have been fought. Charles Colson observed, “All the kings and queens I have known in history sent their people out to die for them. I only know one King who decided to die for His people.” For Christians, each service of worship is an opportunity to remember our King.
When our Savior prepared the disciples for his suffering on the cross, he ate a meal with them. The bread and the cup were to become a memorial meal that the church would share going forward. We were never to forget the supreme sacrifice that Jesus made. We remember.
Jesus asked his followers to be willing to take up their crosses and follow him. Paul writes that we’re to be “…living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…” (Romans 12:1). With grateful hearts we generously sacrifice ourselves in service of our Lord. Our sacrifices help us remember the sacrifices of those who have served our nation. Most importantly, our sacrifices help us remember the sacrifice made by Jesus – the ultimate sacrifice. May we always remember what others have done for us, and how loved we are by God.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.